The Beginnings of the Native
The arrival of Mr. Alexander Sutherland on March
26, 1854, in the first of the monthly steamers, was a welcome addition to the
staff. He relieved Mr. Anderson of the charge of the day-school, and thus left
him more time to devote to other duties. As Calabar children can obey only one
master, a divided authority in the school would have been inexpedient, and Mr.
Anderson showed his wisdom and brotherly spirit in at once giving Mr. Sutherland
. entire charge after initiating him into his duties.
Viewed in relation to home, the monthly arrival
of the mail steamers has wonderfully altered the aspect of affairs in this
country. In former days, two, three, and even four months have sometimes passed
away without any European newspaper or letter reaching us, to let us know what
was going on in the world. Then we sometimes felt as if we were in an
out-of-the-world place. Now we have at least monthly means of communicating with
distant friends; and it is no small comfort for us to feel that we are only a
months distance from England. It is to us a great cause of thankfulness, and it
should afford much relief to our personal friends, and to all the friends of the
Mission, to know that, should any of us be necessitated to seek a change of air
for sake of health, we have such frequent opportunities of taking a trip to sea,
or, if need be, to England itself, and that, too, at a far less expense than the
keeping up of a Mission ship and crew would necessarily involve.
During the week after Mr. Sutherland's arrival I
went with him round the town, and introduced him to the native gentlemen, by all
of whom he was kindly received. We also visited the Mission families at Creek
Town and Old Town, as well as King Eyo, who also gave Mr. S. a cordial welcome
to Old Calabar. On the following Sabbath, April 2nd, we, as usual on the first
Sabbath of the month, observed the ordinance of the Lord's Supper in the
schoolroom in the p.m. A large company of worshippers were present, both from
the shipping and from the town. We remembered in our prayers at the table of the
Lord the congregation at Whitburn, to which Mr. S. belonged in former days, as
he informed us that that Sabbath was their Communion also.
On Monday, April 3rd, I resigned charge of the
school into Mr. Sutherland's hands. He had seen my plan of operation for several
days, and I felt it but due to him to show the young people as soon as possible
that he was now to be " king for school." Having been constantly engaged in
school labours in Jamaica and here together for upwards of fifteen years, I felt
somewhat "out of my element" for a few days after giving up school, but I find
that other equally important duties will demand all the time and labour I can
devote to them.
No Communion service having been observed at
Creek Town since Mr. Goldie left us, in accordance with the wishes of Church
members there, I went up on the P.M. of Sabbath, April 9th, preached, baptized a
child of one of the members, and dispensed The Lord's Supper. Mrs. Anderson, Mr.
Sutherland, Dr. Eastwood four present medical attendant), and a goodly band of
Duke Town young people, accompanied me. On that occasion six young men
communicated for the first time, viz. five youths who had been baptized a few
weeks previously, and George B. Waddell, an emancipado from a slave-ship, and
subsequently a domestic in the family of Rev. Mr. Waddell. Having made
application for admission to the Lord's table some months before—having been
repeatedly examined as to his knowledge of divine things, and having given much
satisfaction at each examination— and having (in the absence of a session) been
approved by all the members of the Church at the station, I felt that it was but
duty to him, to the Church, and to the Head of the Church, to admit him to the
table of the Lord.
Including some from Duke Town and some from Old
Town, twenty-two communicants united in showing forth the death of their Lord,
in the presence of a large number of deeply interested spectators. It was to
myself—I think I may say to all of us—a season of refreshing. We found "the
communion of saints" to be both pleasant and profitable. Mr. Thomson delivered
the concluding address in Calabar language. I was glad to learn from Mr. T. that
other young men at Creek Town, among whom is King Eyo's second son, are very
anxious to be received into the fellowship of the Church.
On the following Friday (April 14th) King Eyo and
his gentlemen took to task the young men who had joined the Church. As Mr.
Thomson has written you an interesting account of the important and deeply
interesting procedure of that day, I shall not here enter into particulars. I
shall only remark, what I stated to our young people here at the prayer meeting
last Wednesday evening, that the demeanour of the young men at Creek Town on the
occasion referred to is an illustration and evidence of the truth of the text,
"The word of God is quick and powerful"; the ever-living and life-giving word ;
the ever-strong and strength-giving word; producing similar effects in all who
cordially embrace it in every age and in every land. We see its life and power
in the case of Joshua and Caleb; in the case of Shadrach, Meshech, and Abednego,
etc.; in the case of martyrs in former years in Britain itself, and more
recently in Madagascar, and in the case of these five young men in Old Calabar.
May 1.—About two months ago I intimated to you
the marriage of the young man who calls himself David King. I am happy to be
able now to announce something of far greater importance respecting him, namely,
his baptism. I think I formerly stated to you (it was on his own authority) that
he is a grandson of the late King Eyamba. He did not stand exactly in that
relationship to Eyamba. His mother's mother was King Eyamba's queen, or head
wife, but Eyamba was not his mother's father. Her father was the "big Duke
Ephraim," who reigned before Eyamba's accession to regal power. David has long
been wishful of being admitted into the Church, but two considerations induced
me to delay his reception: first, I wished him to understand "the way of the
Lord more perfectly" than he did when he first applied for baptism; and second,
I felt somewhat at a loss how to act in regard to him from his position as a
slave-holder. [For the history of Mr. Anderson's dealing with the case of
slave-holders seeking admission to the Church, see Chapter
In order to clear the way of future difficulties on this point, I drew up a
declaration [The declaration is given in full in Chapter XII.
p. 323.] on the treatment of servants, which, having read and explained
to him, I asked him if he was willing to subscribe. This he cheerfully consented
to, and attached his signature in presence of Mrs. Edgerley, Mr. Sutherland, and
myself. The path of duty seeming clear, this young man was yesterday received
into the fellowship of the Church by being baptized "into the name of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He is the first native man who
has made a profession of religion at this station. And I need hardly add that
he, as well as the other converts, has a claim on the sympathies and prayers of
the parent Church. Young Eyo and the most of the native members were present at
our P.M. service yesterday when D. K. was baptized. At my request, Young Eyo
addressed the Duke Town young men, many of whom were present, on their duty in
regard to the gospel of Christ. After I had finished the English portion of the
service, he delivered a long and powerful address on the subject assigned to
him. He spoke in Efik, and was listened to with deep attention. A considerable
portion of his address was taken up in replies to some statements which it
appears some white men are in the habit of making to the natives of Calabar
against the Bible, and against their joining the Church. He handled their
sophistries in a very masterly manner ; he brought them at once "to the law and
to the testimony" as the grand test of truth, and exposed their utter worth-lessness.
I have every reason to expect that his address will be productive of good.
Monday, May 8. — Other two members were added
yesterday to the Church at this station. Their names are Louisa Goldie and
Antika Angwan. Both have been in the mission-house since 1849. Tne former is a
native of the country of Ekoi, said to be about a month's journey distant from
Old Calabar. She appears to be about sixteen or seventeen years of age. The
latter is a native of the neighbouring country of Ibo, and seems a year younger
than the other. They have both, for some months, been anxious for admission to
the Church, and, after undergoing many examinations in regard to their
knowledge, and their walk and conversation being such as the other members of
the Church approve, they were yesterday afternoon baptized and admitted to the
table of the Lord. Six of the young men from Creek Town observed along with us
the ordinance of the Lord's Supper. In regard to the two girls just named, I
regret to say that they are still slaves. One belongs to Henry Cobham, the other
to Antika Cob-ham. They thus "stand in jeopardy every hour." They may be
demanded from us by their masters at any time, and we have no ground on which to
resist the demand. They are not only liable every hour to be withdrawn from our
instructions and our protection, but to be sold into hopeless slaver)' in some
distant land. May the Good Shepherd be their Guide and Guardian ! They have
joined the Church with open eyes—fully expecting to be called upon to suffer
persecution for the sake of Christ and the gospel. O that they may be found
faithful, and endure even to the end!
I do not know if it has ever been mentioned to
you that the Calabarese have an apt illustration of the ordinance of baptism in
a custom of their own which much resembles it. When a slave is purchased from
any other country, the first thing done after the completion of the bargain is
to observe the ceremony called Uduok Mong— i.e. the affusion of water. The
newly-purchased is made to stand below the eaves of his new master's house, when
his old proprietor, or his representative, takes a vessel containing water,
which he empties by heaving the water on the roof in such a manner that a
considerable portion of it will drop down on the person of the newly-arrived.
This is generally accompanied with an exhortation to the person affused to
conduct himself (or herself as the case may be) properly as an inhabitant of Old
Calabar. By this ceremony all bonds connecting him with his former master and
his former country are dissolved, and his connection with Old Calabar begun.
Some of the natives themselves imagine they can
trace a resemblance between the Lord's Supper and their own Egbo festivals. For,
say they, no one dare go to the palaver-house to an Egbo feast except those who
have purchased the privilege of that particular grade of Egbo which is engaged
in keeping a feast; so no one save those who truly belong to Christ and His
people ought to sit at the Lord's table. For my own part, I should not like to
illustrate the sacred ordinance of the Lord's Supper by any of their Egbo
observances,—at least till I know a great deal more about them,—but I felt a
good deal of interest in the above view of the matter, coming as it did
spontaneously from some of the young men themselves.
Thursday, June 8.—Thomas Eyamba's mother is in
great wrath about her son having been baptized. Her strongest objection to the
measure is that her son will be allowed to marry only one wife. A big gentleman
like her son to be without twenty or thirty wives !—the very thought of it is
enough to break the poor woman's heart. She is also annoyed because he has come
under obligations not to maltreat his slaves. She thinks, no doubt, that a
little scorching now and then is necessary to keep the wretches in subjection,
and that without cutting off of ears, extraction of sound teeth, etc., it will
be impossible to manage them. Thomas keeps cool and calm amid the storms by
which he is assailed from various points.
Our Sabbath meetings have improved lately both in
regard to numbers and attention. We have generally four or five meetings in town
during the A.M. of Sabbath. After these meetings I used to preach on board one
of the ships, but the last two Sabbaths on which I did so I felt so faint that I
was compelled to give up that interesting department of labour, at least for the
present. The Sabbath school, held from 3 to 4 P.M., is attended by about eighty.
Of those, ten or twelve are adults. Our little schoolroom has been greatly
overcrowded at the 4 P.M. English service for several months past.
Our Wednesday evening prayer meeting is attended
by from forty to fifty persons, many of whom seem to take much interest in the
exercises. Besides singing and prayer, I read a passage of Scripture, explaining
as I go along, sometimes in English, sometimes in Efik; I then catechise on the
passage ; and after that I generally request one of the most intelligent young
men present to read the passage, with its explanation in Efik, that all may
understand. After prayer, we take a question in' the Shorter Catechism and
discuss it in the same manner. Last evening the question under consideration was
the very interesting and, in our circumstances, peculiarly important one, "What
is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord's Supper?" The passage of
Scripture which came more immediately under review last evening was also most
suitable for the present time—Luke ix. 23-27.
Our friend Egbo Tom made us another dash a few
months ago, said dash being a little sickly boy about two years of age. We have
got his writ of manumission. He is thriving very well now. We have named him
John Gray, after my venerable friend the Dalkeith patriarch of that name. Mrs.
A. redeemed a fine little girl some time ago. We call her Isabella Elliot. We
mean to have both baptized on some early day.